Cooking tools are necessary part of every kitchen. Having the right tools for the job will make your cooking process infinitely easier. Electronic cooking tools like hand mixers, food processors, and toasters and have been all the rage since the 1950s. They’re easy to use, require little to no effort, and are generally reliable sous-chefs.
But what happens when the power goes out (or doesn’t exist at all)? You don’t need to be an end-of-the-world prepper to worry about the power. If you live anywhere that has extreme weather, chances are you’ve seen days and even weeks when the electrical grid is down. Many owners of tiny homes, RVs, yurts, and cabins live off the grid on purpose. But they still have to eat!
Why use low-power & no-power cooking tools?
- Fewer moving parts (i.e. no motors) mean your cooking tools have a longer life-span.
- Some tools give you a great workout. (Can you say free gym membership?)
- They often take less storage or counter space.
- They are often multi-taskers and replace several tools at once.
- You can still eat well when the power is out.
Manually operated cooking tools give you peace of mind.
They’re smaller, more reliable, and are fairly low-maintenance. When you are in a situation where you have to keep a close eye on your power (like boondocking) or your power is out… you can still make dinner. That’s gold to me.
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Quick Story: I was about 11 years old when my mom was making a lemon meringue pie for her friend’s birthday party. She was half way through beating the eggs for the meringue when the power went out. Snap. No more lights. No more electric mixer. It blew my mind when she shrugged, reached to grab an antique hand mixer off the wall, and proceeded to manually beat those eggs into stiff peaks of deliciousness. Okay, on with the show!
No Power Cooking Tools for Living Off Grid
Manual Coffee Grinder
Any coffee lover will tell you that the best cup of coffee is made from freshly ground beans. Don’t waste your amps on grinding with an electric coffee grinder when a manual coffee grinder will do just fine. We use this particular grinder in our tiny kitchen.
Our Hario Coffee Grinder has held up beautifully for over 4 years. We use it at least twice every single morning. It’s easy to refill and it pours perfectly into the mouth of an Aeropress (see below). This grinder makes enough for one large cup of coffee per fill and takes one to two minutes to grind your beans. The handle pops off too, so it stores in a mere 7″ tall x 3″ wide space.
No Power Single Cup Coffee Maker
I could write a novel about all the problems with most single cup coffee makers. Not only do they use a ton of power to heat the water, they’re hard to clean, and some of the most popular ones are terrible for the environment. I recommend the Aeropress Coffee Maker instead. All you need to do is boil water and pour into the tube with some ground coffee and a filter. You stir and press the plunger down and BOOM! You have an amazing cup of coffee in less than a minute.
The best part is that you can make your own adjustments for strength. Clean up is as easy as wiping it off and it stores in about 6″ tall x 4″ wide. The kit comes with a scoop and a large plastic funnel, but I repurposed those items because you don’t really need them. The Aeropress uses disposable paper filters but if you’re not into those, you can also pick up a small mesh filter that is 100% reusable.
Old-Fashioned Manual Can Opener
It baffles me how electric can openers ever became a thing. In my opinion, unless you have a physical need for the assistance, it’s a total waste of power and space. I get that really old metal can openers were a pain to use. I used one throughout my childhood. Can openers have come a long way in the last twenty years, though. They’re more comfortable, easy to use, easy to clean, sharper, and they grip onto your cans more effectively. We use this OXO Good Grips Locking Can Opener and it’s been wonderful. This can opener grips and locks onto the can so you don’t have to keep squeezing. It stores at about 6″ long x 3″ wide—which is a far cry from their bulky electric cousins. So, save yourself a ton of space and power by using one of these guys.
No Power Hand Mixer / Egg Beater
The days of your mother’s Betty Crocker hand mixer or the KitchenAid standing mixer are over! It’s time to go back to the days of your grandmother’s rotary egg beater. The good news that, in addition to being non-electric, the new manually operated hand mixers are designed better. They are more comfortable and actually come apart so you can clean them easily.
For example, this OXO Good Grips Egg Beater not only comes apart in several different ways, you can also adjust it so it works if you’re right or left handed. Granny’s beater never did that! It can handle light to medium density beating such as eggs, cream, and batters. Anything heavier will still require a sturdy spoon and some kneading.
Manual Citrus Reamer / Juicer
I (internally) roll my eyes whenever I see someone with an electric citrus juicer. We used one at my bakery and while it might juice quickly, cleanup is a total pain. For a third the space, no power, and a little arm workout, a simple wooden citrus reamer is all you need. You can really dig in to get all of the juice out and clean up is as simple as rinsing it off.
There are many other wooden reamers on the market, but I’m recommending the OXO Good Grips Wooden Reamer because it’s nice size. I bought one to make margaritas for a friend. I was happy to see that, when I used it, the extra wide handle gave me great control. It’s about 6″ long and 2″ thick so it tucks away nicely in any one of your kitchen utility drawers. If you’re not into pulp, just set a small mesh strainer like this Kuhn Rikon 3″ Strainer over your cup or bowl and juice right into it.
Off-Grid Camp Toaster
So toasters are another major power drain. The energy used to heat up the elements is absolutely crazy. Additionally, if you’re not cooking toast every single day, you’re going to end up with a dusty useless box sitting around. The Camp Stove Toaster sits on top of your stove, grill, or campfire and uses ambiant heat to toast up to four slices of bread. Unlike conventional electric toasters, you don’t have to worry about the thickness of your bread either. It can even be used with bagels and english muffins. This particular toaster is a 9″ wide steel dish with arms that fold down so it stores flat. It’s a space saver and an energy saver. Yay to no more pan-fried or oven-baked-to-petrification toast!
Solar Powered Oven
So how can you cook your food without gas, fire, or electricity? Well you use solar power of course! Full disclosure: I don’t have one of these (yet) and I haven’t used one. We live in a small RV with a full kitchen and limited space. Acquiring a solar oven has been low on our list of purchases. However, if I were to buy one, the All American Sun Oven is the one I would get. We’ve been planning an off-grid homestead for about a year now and in all of my research, this solar oven has gotten the best reviews that I’ve seen so far.
It’s pretty big though. At about 2 feet x 2 feet and a little over 20 lbs, this oven not something you want to travel with unless you have to. For living off grid in one place? Absolutely. Just stick it outside and call it a day. It’s said to get up to and maintain temperatures of 400 degrees. That is almost double what other solar ovens put out. When we settle down, it’s going to be one to my first purchases. Do you already have one? If so, I would love to hear more about how it’s worked for you.
There are a ton of other items that I haven’t mentioned here. I can write for days about the importance and convenience of cooking with cast iron, how knife skills are more important than gadgets, and how to completely skip cooking altogether and just eat an amazing raw diet. However, I think this list covers the basics. If you replace just a single electronic item in your kitchen with one that uses no power, you will find yourself with a greater sense of peace if (and when) the power goes out.
What do you think?
Do you use any of these no power cooking tools? Are there any that you love, but aren’t listed here? Let everyone know in your comments below! I would love to hear about it.